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Action needed now on K-12 education

When it came to solving a problem with University of Arizona basketball, it happened quickly.  But there is no such will to solve Arizona's problems with education.

When it came to solving a problem with University of Arizona basketball, it happened quickly. But there is no such will to solve Arizona's problems with education.

Two of my biggest passions are the Arizona Wildcats basketball team and K-12 education.

The only time I miss a Wildcat game is when it conflicts with a Vail School District Governing Board meeting, and I must fulfill my responsibilities as a board member.

When I open the newspaper, I go first to the stories about my passions. Lately, there has been no shortage of material. The Wildcats and K-12 education have been facing significant difficulties.

K-12 education is starving for money. Every day brings another story about shortages and layoffs and a constant stream of ideas to address these problems.

Cut administration. No new taxes. End tax credits. Furlough teachers. The list of possible actions goes on and on.

Simultaneously, the Wildcats faced the need to hire a coach. This was also very difficult and, like the K-12 problem, required new funding.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Wildcats “problem” is now solved. While people have expressed concern about the cost of the solution, I’m not surprised or overly concerned with the terms of Sean Miller’s contract. The contract is reasonable compared with salaries of other top-level programs.

The bigger issue is how easily the problem was solved. A decision was made, and most everyone got on board with it. There was no protracted wrangling over multiple, unpleasant options.

Even though the latest issue of Time magazine reports that 38 percent of people are cutting back on the purchase of tickets to sporting events, there was little concern expressed about the impact on the athletic budget.

There was no call for Jim Livengood to accept a cut in pay or for other workers in the program to take furloughs.

There was no legislative interference and no apparent concern that the regents might not approve.

Why? There was a will to solve the problem. It is “known” that people want to be entertained well and want to be associated with a winner.

What about K-12 education? Isn’t there a will to solve this problem as well?

Apparently our legislators do not believe we really want this problem solved. As they argue about options, the lives of high-quality teachers are disrupted by reduction in force notices, and competent principals find themselves hamstrung in their attempts to plan for the next school year.

I think our legislators are wrong. I’m sure there are many people like me who want to make sure our state has a strong education program.

We need top quality education programs to entice much-needed economic development.

We must make sure the children of our community are ready to compete in a global labor market.

If our legislators fail to act soon, the result should be the same kind of outrage that would have occurred if a high-quality, high-profile coach had not been found for our beloved Wildcats.

I know many parents and other everyday Arizonans share my zeal.

The message to legislators is this: Act quickly. Act decisively. Act in support of K-12 education so that we can go about the important job of preparing our students and our community for the future.

Anne Gibson is a member of the Vail School District Governing Board’s Community Action Board. E-mail: gibsona@vail.k12.az.us

Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson


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